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My July fund-raising campaign, celebrating the 13th anniversary of the start of this website, has now ended. This was the second most successful monthly fund-raising campaign ever. Thank you again to everyone who has who donated or subscribed. It is difficult to explain what your support means to me.


You can still donate or subscribe to support my work if you wish, either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are four ways of doing so:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Russia launches two tourists to ISS

Capitalism in space: Using its Soyuz-2 rocket and Soyuz capsule, Russia today successfully launched two tourists to ISS.

Onboard the Soyuz is Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire known for starting online businesses Start Today and Zozo. In addition to his Soyuz mission, he has a circumlunar flight aboard SpaceX’s Starship—called “dearMoon”—booked for no earlier than 2023. Maezawa purchased both available seats on this flight of Soyuz. He [is] joined by Yozo Hirano—a media producer from Zozo—who will document the MS-20 mission. This flight will mark the first time two Japanese astronauts fly together, as well as the first flight of any Japanese space tourist.

The mission is commanded by experienced Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, on what is his third spaceflight. During the mission, he will stand ready to pilot the Soyuz in case the automated guidance software fails.

The Russians claim that this is their first tourist flight to ISS since 2009, but that makes believe the two filmmakers launched to ISS in October were not paying passengers. They might have been working on ISS, and not merely tourists, but they were not professional astronauts but paying customers.

This flight however is the first organized with Russia by the American company Space Adventures since 2009, ending that long gap caused almost entirely because all Soyuz seats since then had been bought by NASA to replace the shuttle. With manned Dragon flights available, the Russians and Space Adventures can sell tickets again.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

46 China
27 SpaceX
21 Russia
6 Europe (Arianespace)

China still leads the U.S. 46 to 43 in the national rankings. With SpaceX and Rocket Lab launches set for later tonight, these numbers should rise again.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

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